By: Al Walsh – Follow him on Twitter @14AdotWalsh
* 2019 MLB Record: 140-113-6 (55.3%) *
[7:10 p.m. EST] Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians (1.5-run line: -134)
DET: Ryan Carpenter – L (1-5, 8.36 ERA/1.75 WHIP)
CLE: Zach Plesac – R (3-3, 4.00 ERA/1.18 WHIP)
It has been a rough go of things for the Tigers against the Indians, losing nine of the 10 meetings this season, including each of the last eight. In fact, Cleveland has outscored Detroit by a total of 63-27 in those contests. Tonight’s -260 moneyline number for the Indians matches their highest of the season, so I feel comfortable taking the 1.5-run line here and saving some money to lay.
Things won’t get any better for the Tigers tonight as they send Ryan Carpenter out to the hill. The lefty has a 7.95 ERA/1.73 WHIP in 14 career MLB appearances, including a 12.38 ERA/2.50 WHIP in two starts against the Indians. Carpenter has allowed at least seven hits in six of his eight starts, and that’ll be a dangerous proposition to do such a thing against such a talented lineup.
Since the beginning of July, Cleveland has posted seven runs or more five times, with all of those big totals coming against lesser-talented teams – just like the one it’ll see tonight. Detroit’s bullpen owns the fifth-worst ERA (5.01) in baseball and the team, as a whole, has allowed exactly eight runs in three of its four games since the All-Star break.
On the other side, Zach Plesac has been excellent to start his MLB career, allowing two runs or fewer in five of his first eight starts. The rookie right-hander had a great outing against the Tigers back on June 23, allowing five hits, one walk and one run, while inducing a season-high 10 ground-ball outs over seven innings en route to an 8-3 Indians’ victory.
The Tigers’ offense has been struggling all season, but especially against right-handed pitching, as they own the second-worst wOBA (.286) in baseball in that split – just a fraction above the MLB-worst Marlins.
* Final Score Prediction * Cleveland Indians: 8 – Detroit Tigers: 2
[8:15 p.m. EST] Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals (ML: -175)
PIT: Dario Agrazal – R (2-0, 2.81 ERA/1.31 WHIP)
STL: Jack Flaherty – R (4-6, 4.64 ERA/1.23 WHIP)
We’ve had glimpses of Jack Flaherty displaying the type of dominance he’s capable of, but he hasn’t done it consistently. If that last outing before the break – allowing two hits, one walk and one run over seven innings – against a red-hot Giants lineup is any indication of where Flaherty is heading, we’re in for a treat tonight.
Not only has Flaherty pitched better at home this season, but he’s also done well against the Pirates lifetime. The righty has a 3-1 record to go along with a 2.48 ERA/1.00 WHIP in five career starts.
The Pirates have lost four straight since the All-Star break, while the Cardinals have won their last three games. Not to mention, Pittsburgh has only scored a total of 10 runs in those four games.
Dario Agrazal has been great for the Pirates since making his debut on June 15. However, he’s shown a huge weakness early on, allowing right-handed batters to hit for .353 average, compared to lefties hitting .148. The Cardinals lineup will have plenty of right-handed power coming at Agrazal tonight, so look for the rookie to take the first loss of his career.
All in all, we’ve got two teams heading in opposite directions. We like the Cardinals to continue their winning ways over a struggling Pirates team. Vegas did give the Cardinals a nice +0.4 IRT (implied run total) increase, which is actually the highest for any team on tonight’s slate.
* Final Score Prediction * St. Louis Cardinals: 6 – Pittsburgh Pirates: 2
[8:15 p.m. EST] Under 10.5 – Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals
CHW: Dylan Cease – R (1-0, 5.40 ERA/1.60 WHIP)
KC: Glenn Sparkman – R (2-5, 5.18 ERA/1.40 WHIP)
Whenever the Royals and White Sox have gotten together this season, runs have not been showing up on the scoreboard. In fact, nine of the 12 meetings between the teams have gone under the total – just as it did last night. We’re looking for more of the same tonight, as the SpreadKnowledge system has the total going under in this game as the top-rated play on the entire slate.
Glenn Sparkman may not be the greatest pitcher in baseball, but he certainly knows what he’s doing at Kauffman Stadium. The righty has a 2-2 record to go along with a 2.19 ERA/1.11 WHIP in nine appearances there this season. Sparkman’s last three outings at home have been against quality opponents (Twins, White Sox, Red Sox), and he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of those.
The White Sox offense has been dreadful against right-handed pitching over the last 21 days, with a .292 xwOBA (quality of contact) and .126 ISO (power metric). For reference, we want to see xwOBA in the .350s and higher, while ISO is preferred in the .200s or better. Sparkman won’t get many strikeouts, but perhaps he can see an uptick since the White Sox have been striking out around 25% of the time over that span against righties.
Five of the last six White Sox games have gone under the total, and their offense is a big reason why as they posted no more than three runs in any of those contests.
Dylan Cease made his debut for Chicago on July 3, his only MLB outing up to this point. He allowed three runs over five innings while striking out six Tigers, so there’s not a ton to go off there. However, Cease should certainly benefit from facing a Royals lineup that has similar .293 xwOBA and .137 ISO numbers to his own team’s offense against righties over the last 21 days. Not to mention, the Royals are striking out just over 25% of the time against right-handed pitching over that span.
Four of the last six Royals games have gone under the total, with the only two overs coming against a weak collection of Tigers’ arms.
* Final Score Prediction * Kansas City Royals: 4 – Chicago White Sox: 3
[8:40 p.m. EST] Over 14.5 – San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies
SF: Drew Pomeranz – L (2-9, 6.42 ERA/1.77 WHIP)
COL: Peter Lambert – R (2-1, 6.67 ERA/1.48 WHIP)
We missed the boat on the total going over in the second half of last night’s doubleheader, but Vegas is liking the bats to get back to action tonight. The game total has increased from 14.0 to 14.5, with both teams getting a +0.3 increase on their IRT (implied run total) – usually a good sign that offense is on the horizon. After playing two games yesterday, expect each team’s bullpen to be less effective than usual.
Drew Pomeranz has gotten absolutely ripped away from Oracle Park this season, posting a 1-4 record and 9.76 ERA/1.99 WHIP in seven starts. While he has done a decent job against the Rockies, Pomeranz has yet to face them at Coors Field.
Colorado’s offense has some issues it’s working through, especially after scoring a total of three runs in yesterday’s doubleheader, but this is a great spot to get back on the good foot. The star-studded lineup including Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story is not built to have long stretches of ineffectiveness.
Peter Lambert goes for the Rockies, and his brief time in the MLB and has been nothing short of miserable. Over his last four starts (17 2/3 innings), the rookie has allowed 30 hits, 20 runs and eight homers.
The Giants’ offense has been rocking and rolling, with at least seven runs in eight of the last 12 games. Prior to the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader, Rockies’ pitching had allowed 45 runs in the previous three contests.
According to the SpreadKnowledge system, the total going over is our second-strongest play of the night. Granted, we’re shooting for a sky-high total, but we’ve got plenty of reasons to know it’ll come through.
* Final Score Prediction * Colorado Rockies: 12 – San Francisco Giants: 9